Published: April 27th 2012April 27th 2012
Sorry it has been over a month since our last (and first) post, as you can tell we are really into updating this blog, we've even managed to upload photos to accompany this time although not sure we've quite got them in chronological order - beggars can't be choosers though so stop your moaning. So, as we haul our memories back to where we left you hanging on a knife's edge, we sit in yet another hostel this time in Mendoza, the wine region in Argentina having just polished off our second glass of Malbec and an extremely dubious plateful of undercooked ravioli - well at least the wine was nice.
Anyway, we left you in Paraty in Brazil. This was a lovely part of our trip filled with lots of sunbathing on even more incredible beaches, some sea kayaking and a petty thief (20 pounds worth of Brazilian Reals stolen right under our very freckly noses on said kayaking trip). Paraty was where we found possibly our favourite beach so far called Sao Gonsalez, with white sand, calm crystal clear water and incredible scenery. We spent an amazing day there with another English girl we met in our hostel.
Charles found solace away from the gossiping, on a rock in the middle of the sea, where he beached himself like a well-oiled humpback for the majority of the afternoon. It was an unforgettable day. And so unfortunately was our day of kayaking...We were talked into the trip by a creepy, detestable Brazilian hombre in our hostel who funnily enough had a significant stake in the kayaking company. We trotted down to the sea front with high hopes, ready for some energetic activity amongst all our lounging. We were under the impression that we would spend most of the day going to secluded islands for more sunbathing and a spot of affordable light lunch with the odd token bit of canoeing thrown in...THIS WAS NOT THE CASE. What in actual fact we were greeted with was miles and miles of kayaking against the current in the middle of the sea. With 7 other men in our group, Lucy was always at the back, puffing away and trying not to be broken in both back and spirit. We did visit a couple of mediocre islands and saw some cool stuff canoeing through the mangroves, but this did not make up for
the hell we put our bodies through. Finally at 3.15pm when lunch finally reared it's ugly head, we were confronted by a fine-dining restaurant offering very little for under 30pounds each...we decided not to eat at all. Oh and as mentioned before, we had money stolen from our wallet during the trip. Enough said. Despite our ranting though, Paraty was a lot of fun and we met lots of nice people and had a great few days there.
Next on the list (via 7hours waiting in a sketchy Sao Paulo Bus terminal) was the sun soaked city of Florianopolis (to clarify we were still in Brazil, not in Greece despite the name of the place!). There's not an awful lot to say about our 10 day stay here other than the fact that we had more great weather, tonnes of time on more awesome beaches and a bit more hiking thrown in too. Hiking to other beaches, that is. It was also in Florianopolis that we turned our hand to surfing after rather arrogantly deciding we didn't need any lessons. Needless to say we didn't quite get up on our feet on the board, although we certainly enjoyed trying
alongside some new friends made in our 'Eco-Hostel'. We also tried something called 'mate' (pronounced like latte) for the first time here. This is a drink made from various herbs, drunk either hot or cold from a very unusual looking sort of wooden cup/animal horn with a metal straw. The closest thing we can compare it too in taste is green tea but more bitter and involving a wider array of odd paraphenalia and strange traditions. We'd never heard of it before we came out here but the more we've been travelling the more we've come to realise it's absolutely MASSIVE! It's like tea to the English times a thousand, they're obsessed with it! Anyway we digress - to summarise Florianopolis was brilliant.
Next stop... Foz do Iguacu, home to the Brazilian side of the absolutely spectacular Iguazu Falls. We stayed in a reasonably nice hostel with an extremley charasmatic yet perverted owner called Joe. Without going into too much detail, his birthday present to his wife was shaving his beard off (we were there for the unveling of the gift) and he had some highly 'progressive' views on his favourite topic - prostitution. Foz do Iguacu was not
a particularly nice city to be honest but we weren't there for the nightlife, just for the waterfalls, which were, without wanting too sound over-the-top, magnificent. Stunning. We were planning on visiting both the Brazilian and Argentine side of the falls and were successful in seeing the Brazilian, but after spending a full half day to get to the Argentine side the next day, we got incredibly unlucky with the buses and weather and came home empty-handed and extremely disappointed, particularly as most people say that the Argentine side of the falls are better. Oh well we're over it now, plus we reckon those people are wrong. Please don't correct us if you know otherwise. Joe also took us to Paraguay for the morning in his car (on his wife's birthday) so that we could stock up on cheap electrical goods. Very strange place indeed and no cheaper than England, yet decidedly more dodgy (the market was largely made up of people selling tazers, guns and knives).
20 hours on an overnight bus later, we pulled in to Buenos Aires for a short pit-stop (more on BA in due course) before heading onwards to Uruguay. We had a week
to play with before meeting our friends in BA and so thought that Uruguay was our answer. We arrived in the capital Montevideo at 7 o'clock in the morning, annoyed a lot of commuters on the bus with our massive backpacks and rocked up to our hostel. We say rocked - this was more like a cold, dusty church. We weren't overly impressed with Montevideo and after a day of exploring, were ready to leave. Sadly we had optimistically paid for 3 nights there and so had to wait it out. We even made a day out of visiting the National Football Stadium and museum, which even Charles found a little disappointing. Lucy's opinion of this trip is best left unsaid. And so after three long days in Montevideo, we headed west to Colonia Del Sacremento. This is a much more picturesque and peaceful little town, however Lucy's stomach did not mirror the relaxed surroundings. It was here that she developed Gasteroentoritis (according to the large, greasy Uruguain doctor). We didn't end up seeing much of Colonia as a result of the condition, although Lucy got to know the bathroom pretty well. Okay, it's probably best that we just move
on to BA at this point...
Buenos Aires was a destination we'd been particularly looking forward to since the start of the trip, partially due to its reputation as a fantastic city and also due to the fact we had arranged to meet some friends from home there - Cheryl & James who we know through work and also Duncan, an old school friend of Charles'. BA did not disappoint in the slightest - we stayed there for 10 days altogether and rented a studio apartment in the San Telmo district which was awesome. To give you a whistlestop tour of the highlights - steak, steak, wine, wine + more steak and wine - the unrivalled reputation Argentina has for these two glorious wonders is in no way exaggerated - we consumed tonnes of both and it was almost always of tip top quality for reasonable value - and as long as we've managed to avoid gout as a result of this gluttony (official diagnosis is tbc), then it was worth every penny. We spent a lot of time with Cheryl & James (who were staying in an nearby gay hotel which we occasionally frequented to use the pool)
and Duncan too, doing walking tours which included the Recolleta cemetary which despite sounding very boring and morbid was actually incredible, eating and drinking out (including a night out in San Telmo that Duncan & Charles have very little recollection of) and generally exporing the city, which has a really unique energy and charismatic culture to it. We also went to a Boca Juniors football match (the top team in the country) at their famous Bombonera stadium - despite the standard of football itself not being quite up to the quality of the mighty Spurs (no jokes please) the atmosphere, which is what we went for of course, was unbelievable. It's hard to describe really but almost every second of it is like you're at the home end of a world cup final at Wembley - it's fricking mental! Oh and Boca won 2-0 which of course added to the atmos. To top it all off we had literally nothing but incredible weather in BA. We left there a few days ago to come to Mendoza, and we were already missing it the moment we left - such a cool place would recommend it to anyone. We could go on
for a while here, but final point to add on BA was a fantastic day trip out to a really nice peaceful delta area just outside the city called Tigre with Duncan and some new English friends we met out there, Christian and Juliette who we hope to meet up with later on in our trip. All in all, BA was a blast.
You find us now in Mendoza (as mentioned at the beginning of this post). This is Argentinian wine region. You've probably seen it on a fair few labels of empty bottles...Despite there being uncharacteristically bad weather for the area, we have been enjoying our first few days here. We even (sadly) ventured to the cinema to escape the cold to see the latest American Pie flick (not bad, not great - but in English!). Today was our first day of wine tasting and Charles' friend Tom kindly sorted us out with a tour around the biggest wine producer in Mendoza. We were treated like celebs and had a truly unforgettable experience tasting all that Trapiche has to offer. In the next couple of days we are hoping to try and do one of the 'cycling wine
tours' common here, where one wobbles from bodega to bodega to sample their wines. Hopefully the sun will come out for this!
That's it for now, next stop is Chile. Apologies again for being so lax with updates, hopefully (but no promises) we'll be less lazy over the next couple of months.
Thanks to those who commented, keep them coming!
Lots of love,
Charles and Lucy xxxxx
There are more photos below